Quinn doesn’t like to speak in front of people, especially in class at school. So when I found out that every other month he would have to memorize and perform a poem in front of his reading class, I had one of those die-a-little-inside moments.
I knew that Quinn often freezes then meltdowns if asked to do so much as read in front of the class, so I knew the fastest way to send him into a panic was to make him perform—with props and emotion—something he’d memorized.
I contacted his teacher, asking for an accommodation. I suggested that he be able to do it just for her and not in front of the class. She came back with a suggestion that he do it at home and I videotape it.
Boom. That is how you teach kids who learn differently.
I was thrilled. Quinn was relieved, but still worried. He didn’t think he could memorize a whole poem. We worked on two lines a night and by the end of the month, he (and the rest of the family) had his whole poem memorized. We taped it and he got the highest score possible. He was so damn proud.
That was October. This month he had to do another one. All of the poems to choose from were either longer or more complicated than the one he’d picked for October. I was worried. Quinn ended up picking “The Lion” by Roald Dahl.
I felt good about his choice because it’s a funny little poem that I thought would make Quinn laugh. Unfortunately I didn’t think about the fact that there is basically a complicated list within the poem that made it tough for him to keep things in the right order.
To help him, I suggested that he draw some pictures of the subject of that list so he could keep the order straight while he was trying to memorize. Then he could use the pictures as props when performing the poem for the camera.
Quinn doesn’t want me to post the video on the internet, but he told me I could post his pictures. So. Without further ado, I present to you “The Lion” by Roald Dahl as illustrated by Quinn.
The lion just adores to eat
A lot of red and tender meat
And if you ask the lion what
Is much the tenderest of the lot,
He will not say a roast of lamb
Or curried beef
or devilled ham
Or crispy pork
or corned beef hash
or mutton mash.
Then could it be a big plump hen?
He answers no. What is it, then?
Oh, lion dear, could I not make
You happy with a lovely steak?
Could I entice you from your lair
With rabbit pie or roasted hare?
The lion smiled and shook his head.
He came up very close and said,
‘The meat I am about to chew
Is neither steak nor chops. IT’S YOU.’
I feel as if Mr. Dahl would be proud. I hope his teacher likes it as much as I do.